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DATE POSTED 14. 03. 2017, By

Illinois to Introduce Secure Choice Program in 2018

Typically, private sector employers are not required to provide their employees with retirement benefits, such as pension plans. However, this year, Illinois plans to institute the Secure Choice Program, under which employees will automatically be enrolled in a savings account. Although certain employers will be required to offer benefits, employees will be given the chance to opt out of the program. Furthermore, the program will fall under the purview of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which means that employers will be required to comply with ERISA’s reporting and disclosure requirements.

Secure Choice Program

According to the most recent data, eight states, including Illinois have passed legislation aimed at establishing retirement savings programs for private sector workers whose employers do not offer retirement benefits. These states include: California, Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Under Illinois’ Secure Choice program, employees will automatically be enrolled in a savings account similar to a Roth IRA, where regular deductions from payroll will be deposited. Secure Choice will be available to any employer in the state with 25 or more employees as long as:

  • They have been operating in the state for two or more years; and
  • They do not offer a qualified savings plan.

If these qualifications are met, employers can automatically enroll their workers in the program. However, employers can still offer a different qualified plan to its workers if they wish.

Employee Rights

Under this program, employers must take certain steps, including:

  • Distributing informational materials about the program to all employees;
  • Facilitating the enrollment of their employees;
  • Setting up the payroll deduction process; and
  • Ensuring timely remittance of employee contributions to the retirement plan provider.  

Employers themselves will not be permitted to contribute to accounts and also will not have any administrative or managerial responsibilities because they will not be considered plan managers or fiduciaries. Finally, Secure Choice accounts will be owned by each individual participant and so will be considered portable. This means that if an employee leaves a company, the employer will not be responsible for maintaining the former employee’s account.

Penalties

Any employer who fails without reasonable cause to enroll an employee in the program will be subject to the following penalties:

  • A $250 fine for each employee not enrolled for each calendar year; or
  • A $500 fine for each calendar year beginning after the date a penalty has been assessed for any part of the year during which an employee continues to be un-enrolled.

If an employer fails to pay the fine or to dispute it, the government can place a lien upon all of his or her real or personal property.

Contact an Experienced ERISA Attorney Today

If you have been denied benefits or have questions about the Secure Choice program, please contact Roberts Bartolic LLP by calling (312) 635-1600 or by submitting one of our short contact forms and we’ll help you schedule a free consultation with an experienced ERISA attorney.

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